Expanding your professional network is a great way to identify new career opportunities, learn more about your industry, and expose yourself to new ideas and points of view. The idea of meeting new colleagues and working to build up your network can seem daunting at first, but it’s actually far less intimidating than you might think. Here are a few tips for establishing and expanding your professional network.
Identify who you want to connect with.
It’s a good idea to determine why you’re networking and who you want to network with before you get started. For example, if you’re looking for a new job, you might want to focus the majority of your networking efforts on targeting recruiters and hiring managers. If you’re simply looking to connect with colleagues and expand your professional circle, you could focus on meeting and speaking with people who work in your field and who have similar roles.
Join relevant professional organizations.
Now that you’ve defined your purpose for networking and decided who you want to connect with, you can start seeking out networking opportunities. Professional organizations are a great place to start since a major reason these organizations exist is for networking purposes. The main benefits of networking within dedicated professional organizations include collaborating with colleagues in your field and getting advice from industry experts. Another major perk is connecting with people who might be able to help you make a career move at some point in the future.
You don’t have to limit yourself to organizations that are specific to your field, but it’s best to consider how much value each professional organization offers to you before joining.
Attend local networking events and trade shows.
Even if you don’t join a specific professional organization, there are likely still plenty of opportunities you can take advantage of to expand your circle and advance your career. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they host regular networking events for business professionals. You can also keep an eye out for trade shows relevant to your industry that are taking place in your area and make plans to attend in order to meet new people in your field.
Use LinkedIn to your advantage.
A fully completed and optimized LinkedIn profile will take you far in the world of digital networking. Once you’re satisfied with your profile, you can start sending connection requests to people you already know and people you are interested in networking with. Make sure to personalize your connection requests and be clear about your reasons for connecting so you don’t come across as spammy or disingenuous, though. If you want a fairly simple way to increase your chances of forming organic connections via LinkedIn, make it a goal to regularly post original content that’s relevant to your industry.
Keep in touch with former coworkers and bosses.
There’s a reason you’ve probably been told on more than one occasion not to burn bridges if you can help it. Staying in touch and on good terms with old coworkers and bosses is a great way to maintain and build your professional network. Since these people have worked with you before, they’re more likely to be able to help you spot potential job opportunities that might be a good fit. They can also provide references and endorsements, both of which go a long way when you’re making a career move.
Focus on quality over quantity.
There’s no point in meeting dozens of career professionals without identifying the potential value you can offer to each other. It’s better to make just a few strong connections via networking than to leave an event with 50 business cards in your pocket and no valuable relationships formed.
Remember to give as much as you take.
Networking is all about forming mutually beneficial connections. If you’re networking in order to land a new job or get advice for advancing in your career, it’s important that you bring some value to the table as well. This could be something as simple as introducing a new contact to your team and helping that contact expand their own professional network. As long as you’re providing value while also benefiting from the relationship, you’re in a good position.
Networking is a vital part of unlocking career opportunities, but it’s just one component of the process. Contact Stratice today for help with resume building, finding a new professional role, and more!